This year, on this day, July 25th to be exact, Nikon will have reached its 100th anniversary. One hundred years of continuous invention, evolution and constant re-invention. It is a cauldron of ambition, yet it is an ambition to provide quite simply the best optical designs, make the best cameras and merge the best technologies to give you the perfect vehicle for capturing your images. Over the course of the next twelve months we will be celebrating Nikon’s 100th anniversary milestone at Grays of Westminster and within the pages of Nikon Owner magazine.
David Douglas Duncan, who reached the age of 101 on 23rd January 2017, is perhaps the best war photographer of the 20th century. From his coverage of the Korean War, which gave birth to the celebrated book This Is War! to his intimate documentation of Pablo Picasso, Duncan has influenced generations of photographers.
In 1950, Duncan visited Japan for LIFE magazine to take pictures of traditional Japanese fine arts. While he was there he made a fortuitous discovery when a young Japanese photographer, Mr. Jun Miki, took his photograph. Duncan was so impressed by the results he asked to be taken to the manufacturer Nippon Kogaku (Nikon) to examine the Nikkor lenses and started testing a 35mm f/3.5 Nikkor on his Leica.
His encounter with Nikon changed the history of Japan’s optics industry. The favourable reception Nikon products received around the world helped establish the foundations of the domestic camera industry, as well as playing a key role in Japan’s export-led economic recovery in the post-war period. Duncan greatly assisted Nikon during their early years, and in 1965 he was presented with the 200,000th Nikon F. This was built for him in recognition of his phenomenal achievements as a photographer and the subsequent renown Nikon achieved as a result of his use of their equipment.
Why I Love Nikon…
I love the fact that Nikon have retained the original F-mount, virtually unchanged since its release in 1959 and noted for its rugged construction and outstanding reliability. Over the years there must have been a number of persuasive arguments to change the mount but Nikon remained loyal to their original design; having maintained its basic structure for the last fifty-eight years means that some 400 different Nikkor lenses are currently compatible with the system. The fact that you can fit a pre-AI Nikkor lens onto a Nikon Df and shoot straightaway is extraordinary! In fact, not only is the F-mount unique for its degree of compatibility with a whole range of present and past Nikkor lenses, but its singular design is also capable of accommodating future system advances.
Furthermore, I love Nikon because their DSLR cameras are always so well-made and from auto-focus to manual focus, the superb optics of their lenses is one of the core achievements of their remarkable skill in innovative engineering. In fact, Grays of Westminster sell a lot of second-hand manual focus Nikon lenses to the movie industry where they are mounted on high-definition cameras.
It gives me great pleasure to raise glass of something sparkling and say ‘Have a Very, Very Happy 100th Birthday, Nikon!’ A centennial is a very significant moment in the history of an individual and no less so for a company. Nikon have created products that have been used to photograph some of the most astonishing moments in the history of this planet and beyond. There has always been a passion and commitment to excellence which is an intrinsic part of the DNA of this most illustrious company and one which I am proud and honoured to be a small part of.